Hello my name is Chris…

Chris Beeley

Inspired by the wonderful Hello my name is campaign we’ll be running some posts to get us started from members of the Involvement team introducing ourselves and our work. I’ve volunteered myself to go first, so here we go…

Hello, my name is Chris. I started working with the Involvement team about 5 years ago. We were just starting to collect survey data across the Trust and I got involved because of my previous experience with survey design and analysis. At the time I was an evaluator/ researcher at the Institute of Mental Health with an interest in using surveys and other routine data collected within mental health services. The work on feedback in the Trust is now so large and important to the Trust that I have now moved over full time to the team.

I’ve worked in Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust for 14 years now, I’ve run the gamut from healthcare assistant on an acute ward, assistant psychologist, research assistant, evaluation manager and now experience data manager. I just fell into my current role, I’d never written a line of code in my life but as we worked on increasingly larger and larger numbers of surveys I became aware that there were programming languages and technologies that we could use to make the process quicker and easier. My motto is let computers do repetitive work crunching numbers and writing reports and free up humans to do what they do best- read, think, and communicate.

So I’ve taught myself three programming languages (level: Expert, Amateur, and Beginner), one database technology (to store all the data) and two markup languages (to make the reports look nice) and now spend my days cleaning the data, improving the database and the reports and generally overseeing the whole process of getting as much feedback about our services as I can and presenting it back to people in the most accessible and useful format I can come up with. We share all of our experience data transparently with the world on the Your Feedback Matters website.

Apart from letting computers take the burden of report writing and number crunching my other big passion is free and open source software. This describes software which is provided free, with users able to use the software without any charge or modify it for their own use.

For more, please follow the above link, it contains a lot of references to noteworthy projects in open source, particularly in the public sector. In brief, I would argue that open source technologies, which are often free, are criminally under used in the public sector, although they have started to gain traction, for example in a major upgrade to the NHS’s central data systems (these were largely open source, but not free, see more here). As a matter of principle I use no proprietary (i.e. closed source) software in my work but, to be honest, this is no hardship, in my field all the good products are open source anyway, or have solid open source alternatives.

When I’m not thinking about computers, teaching myself programming languages, or fiddling around with Linux  (which, to be honest, is not very often) I’m a very proud (and busy) father of two young children and enjoy literature, hip-hop, martial arts (aikido), running, and video games.

We’ve started this blog to talk about what’s going on in our team, who we are and what we do, and will be featuring regular guest pieces from service user, carer, and professional experts in involvement, experience, and volunteering.

Please contact me if you have any comments about my work on the feedback site, have suggestions for the blog or if you are interested in contributing a guest piece to the blog.